Welcome to This Month's Newsletter
In this edition of the newsletter, we share the first chapter of the next book in the Jinx Hamilton series, Mirrors of Time, and give you a cover reveal for Fermata, Book 1 in The Elegy Series, which we will launch in the coming weeks.
Here's a Sneak Peek of Mirrors of Time!
The Druid Forests of Kent, 1590
The human body responds to potentially harmful stimuli with involuntary reflexes. You don’t think about what you’re doing. You react. That’s what I did. My skills as a catcher landed Glory and me in a world of trouble.
The wedding came off perfectly — in fairy tale fashion. Looking back, Lucas and I almost made a clean getaway. Then Morris Grayson called out, “A word with you, nephew?”
Lucas hesitated and looked at me. I knew he didn’t want to speak to his uncle, but flush with the joy of the day, I generously thought Grayson’s request might be a peace offering.
When I nodded, Lucas stepped away, barely missing a collision with Glory who rushed forward exclaiming to me, “I didn’t get to hug you yet!”
It sounds awful now after everything we’ve been through, but I only half listened while she encouraged me to take lots of pictures in France so we could “scrapbook the honeymoon.”
Out of the corner of my eye, I caught Morris making an odd gesture. At some point during the next series of events, my reflexes kicked in. I put out my hand and caught a small, flat, elongated metal object.
I’m not sure if that happened before bright lights erupted inside the portal or when a powerful, sucking wind threatened to pull us off our feet.
Glory clutched at me, crying out, “Jinx. What’s happening?”
Shouting to be heard over the gale, I said, “I don’t know. Hang on.”
Even with our combined weight, we couldn’t stand against the cyclone. Lucas called my name before the roaring of the storm overcame all other sounds. I lifted off the ground, and we were sucked into a dark corridor.
My perception switched to roller coaster mode delivering terror-inspired glimpses of branching tunnels. I recognized Trafalgar Square in Londinium. The market in Istanbul where Lucas took me for Turkish food. The lair back home, but with the furniture in all the wrong places.
We tumbled through space for an indefinite period. Minutes. Hours. Days. I have no idea. Lulled by disorientation, I didn’t process a cogent synapse until we slammed into a rubbery wall that sent our bodies plunging straight down.
The thought involved a reference to a certain human waste product.
No matter if you trip and fall in the kitchen or jump off a building, one certainty looms ahead. You will hit bottom.
Bracing for impact, I hastily tried to slow our fall with a braking incantation. I managed to mumble the opening words of the spell before we landed. The incomplete casting must have helped some. The impact stunned me, but I didn’t lose consciousness.
A blast of frigid wind caught me full in the face, clearing my head. I sat up carefully and looked around. Glory lay sprawled in deep snow a few feet away. Not certain I could stand, I crawled to her.
“Glory? Are you okay? Wake up.”
She groaned, swaying as she pulled herself into a sitting position, but otherwise, she seemed unharmed. Confused, she put out her hand and picked up a clump of snow.
“How is there snow on the ground?” she asked. “It’s June.”
“It was June in Shevington,” I said, taking in the thick forest that ringed the clearing. “What parts of the world would have snow in the summer?”
Glory started rattling something about Patagonia. Under the rapid-fire torrent of words, I thought I heard noises in the woods. Hushing her, I strained to listen. There they were again. Footsteps.
We had nowhere to hide. Thanks to a bright, full moon overhead, we could see our surroundings. That was something.
“Get up,” I said. “Someone’s coming.”
I stood up and shoved the object from the portal into my jacket pocket. Glory’s legs were shaky, but she was on her feet and moving behind me.
“Someone coming could be good, right?” she asked nervously. “They could be here to rescue us.”
I wanted to ask her when anything in our world ever worked out that easily, but I didn’t have time. A hooded figured stepped out of the woods, stopping a few feet away.
Cautiously I probed along the internal pathway to my power. When I felt the familiar response, some of my fear receded.
“Uh, hi,” I said lamely. “We’re not supposed to be here. We don’t know where ‘here’ is. Can you help us out?”
A slim hand threw back the cloak’s dark cowl. I wanted to weep with relief. Glory had been right. Help had arrived.
“Oh, Moira, thank God,” I babbled. “When the portal malfunctioned I thought we were done for. Where are we? How do we get back to the wedding?”
The woman I thought I recognized looked at me with uncomprehending eyes. “Do I know thee? Your speech falls strangely on my ears, and your manner of dress is most unusual.”
Glory still wore her bridesmaid dress, and I was in a summer suit. We did look like civilians who had been dropped head first into a Renaissance faire.
Even though warning bells were going off in my head, I wasn’t ready to let go of the illusion that everything would be okay. Maybe Moira had enjoyed a little too much champagne at the reception.
“Of course you know me,” I said, with a nervous laugh. “It’s me. Jinx. You know, the Witch of the Oak. Kind of a big deal.”
Her answer shattered my fantasy of normalcy once and for all. “Adeline Shevington is Witch of the Oak.”
The hair on the back of my neck stood up. Dreading what Moira would say next, I asked, “What year is this? Where are we?”
Even in the midst of fleeting denial, I already knew the answer give or take a decade or two.
“The year of our Lord 1590. You are in the Druid forests of Kent.”
Beside me, Glory gasped and then did what Glory does; she found the bright lining in calamity. “Oh my God!” she gushed. “This is so cool. We time traveled! You may not know us yet, Moira, but you will, and you’ll like us. Honest. I can’t wait to get home and tell Chase about this.”
Glory’s enthusiasm for history and love of novelty shielded her in the moment, but I did the mental math. By 1590, Adeline Shevington should have been dead. If she wasn’t, we were indeed lost in time, but not our time.
Much later, when I had an opportunity to consider those opening moments in retrospect, I realized I’d made a considerable mental leap.
Before we landed in those woods, I’d never heard of alternate time. Without being able to put a name to the sensation, however, I intuitively understood that everything felt wrong.
The flavor of the night air. The frequency of my power. The pulsations of natural energy from the forest.
The sensation reminded me of searching for a radio station on Aunt Fiona’s old wood cabinet Philco receiver. You could hear the music against a background of static before you hit the sweet spot on the dial that would give you a clear signal.
While Glory talked a mile a minute and I assessed our situation, I felt Moira’s eyes on me. When I shivered — from the cold and emotional overload — the alchemist reacted with familiar kindness.
Raising the staff in her hand, Moira ignited a fireball, which she guided toward the ground. The snow melted as the flames approached, and stones rose from the earth to form a circle. Contained in its bounds, the fire grew into a warming blaze fueled by the force of her magic.
Next, the alchemist murmured, “Formae pallium suum.”
A thick cloak descended around my shoulders while a second engulfed Glory. I drew the heavy fabric close to my body and sank onto my knees beside the fire. Glory joined me reaching for my hand. I squeezed her fingers tightly and managed a weak smile.
Moira sat down across from us, the flames highlighting the angular planes of her face. “Perhaps your tale would best be told from the beginning,” she said. “When I know from whence you have come, I will be better able to help you arrive at your destination.”
I don’t know how long I talked. Inconsequential details crept into the coherent narrative I tried to craft. But even with those meaningless asides, I managed to communicate two salient facts to Moira.
We were from a time and place 425+ years distant where we knew a different Moira.
Since that night I’ve learned a great deal about time travel. Temporal constants exist — events, people, qualities that manifest regardless of the time stream or its differences.
Any version of the woman I know as Moira Shevington could not help but be intrigued by what I was telling her.
“Who am I in your world?” she asked, leaning slightly forward as if drawn to me by the magnetic attraction of the things I might say.
Unsure of the consequences of sharing information, I dodged the most loaded revelations I could have made.
“You’re the resident alchemist in a New World Fae community.”
“The New World,” she said, the words coming out with a kind of hushed excitement. “I harbor great curiosity about this far away place of which Raleigh and the others speak. How came I to those shores?”
“That’s a really long story, and honestly, I’m not sure how many specific details I should give you,” I admitted. “In broad terms, you were part of a colonizing group of Fae.”
She considered the statement. “Were these settlers Druids specifically?”
“No,” I said. “They were magical dissenters representing many Fae races.”
The fire guttered as a gust swept over the clearing. Beside me Glory burrowed deeper into her cloak. “Could we maybe have this conversation inside somewhere?” she asked. “I’m still freezing.”
Moira dipped her staff toward the flames, bringing the fire to a higher level. “My village lies nearby in the woods,” she said, “but I cannot bring you there if you present a danger to my people. Would you be willing to submit to a veracity spell?”
“Of course,” I said. “We’ll answer any questions you have for us.”
Shifting nearer to where I sat, Moira held out her hands, which I clasped without hesitation. Our eyes met, and the alchemist whispered, “Sed verbo veritatis et nemo ex ore cadere.”
Let none but words of truth fall from thy lips.
The first question surprised me. “Are you Creavit?”
“I’m an Hereditarium witch.”
“Do you know Ruling Elder Brenna Sinclair?”
If you ever have to pass a lie detector test, remember that you can tell the truth without telling the whole truth.
“I know a Brenna Sinclair, but she’s not ruling elder, and she is no longer Creavit.”
“Are you a Spanish agent?”
Frowning, I said, “No. Why would the Spanish be interested in England?”
“Oh,” Glory said, “Spain was a Catholic nation, and they had competing maritime interests with the English. After Queen Mary died, her husband wanted to marry Elizabeth. She was a Protestant. Well, is a Protestant, I guess. There’s this whole Reformation thing going on.”
Moira let go of my hands and reached for Glory. The alchemist put a series of questions to my companion, which Glory answered with breathless enthusiasm.
“How did you gain familiarity with these events?” Moira asked.
“I’m an historian,” Glory said. “Well, I was an historian, or really an archivist. But it helps if you’re both. I studied Elizabethan England when I was at graduate school.”
Moira’s dark brows furrowed. “In your time women are allowed to attend university?”
“Not just attend, but teach,” Glory said. “I wanted to do that, too, almost as much as I wanted to be a singer like Elvis, but I would have needed a doctorate. I didn't have enough money to pay for tuition, so I went to work for the state, and then life took over, and I never went back to school, but I wish I had.”
For a Glory word burst that was fairly short, but Moira still blinked a couple of times. Glory does that to people. She has a loose relationship with periods, adores conjunctions, and never seems to need a pause for breath.
“I do not understand all the things of which either of you speak,” Moira said finally, “but I detect no deceit in your words. I know not what force brought you here, but I do believe you have been removed from the stream of time in which you belong.”
I’ll take progress where I can get it. “Then you’ll help us?” I said.
“I will,” Moira replied, “but there are forces in this that, were they to learn of your unique origins, could present a considerable danger to you. I think it best to disguise your identities rather than risk such an occurrence.”
No argument from me on that one.
“What should we do?” I asked.
“Until we discover how to return you to your world, I will hide you among our people,” Moira said. “My dwelling lies at the edge of our settlement. I will take you there now under cover of darkness. Tomorrow you will be introduced to our Elder as travelers sent to me from a colleague in a remote region of France to study as novices.”
Let’s face it. We were in no position to say no. We couldn’t stay in the forest alone without proper clothing and supplies. We couldn’t pass ourselves off in an alien world without help — and different time stream or not, this woman was still Moira. I trusted her.
“Thank you,” I said. “We’re grateful.”
With a snap of her fingers, the alchemist extinguished the fire. The rocks sank into the ground. When we reached the edge of the tree cover, Moira turned and blew softly toward the clearing. The snow drifted smoothly over our tracks leaving the area pristine and undisturbed.
“Follow me in close order,” she said. “Step only in the tracks I leave. Nowhere else.”
I motioned Glory to go first, bringing up the rear. After we’d covered a few yards, I looked back. In the moonlight, I could see that our trail disappeared behind us. Whatever Moira was doing, there would be no evidence of our passage through the woods.
The alchemist led us through the trees with unerring confidence. She never stumbled or tripped even when the thick canopy over our heads blotted out all traces of the moon.
Without warning, a muscular wolf with a shaggy black coat stepped onto the path blocking our way. He regarded Moira with amber eyes, letting out a low, almost conversational series of whines.
“You heard the things of which we spoke. The strangers are under my protection,” Moira answered. “They mean me no harm.”
The wolf nodded and trotted into the trees, but he didn't leave us. I caught glimpses of his dark fur against the snow as we moved forward.
“Friend of yours?” I asked.
Instead of coming off light and flip, the question betrayed my fear.
“An old friend,” Moira replied. “He presents no threat to you. He means only to guard us until we reach our home.”
Something about the way she worded the phrase made me gulp. “He lives with you?”
Moira chuckled softly. “I suspect Orion might tell you that I live with him.”
After about 20 minutes lights appeared through the trees ahead. I made out a clump of several dozen stone buildings resembling beehives.
Orion trotted out of the woods and fell in beside Moira. He looked back at me and wagged his tail, which I took either as a sign of acceptance or anticipation over what a nice snack I’d make.
Moira led us to a solitary hut situated at the edge of the community. Orion held back while we passed through a small entrance chamber intended to keep out the cold.
When we entered the single, circular room, the wolf came inside and lay down by the door, putting his head on his paws.
A low fire smoldered in the central pit. At a word from Moira, the flames sprang to life.
“Welcome to my home and workshop,” she said, igniting a series of oil lamps that floated into the dome over our heads further illuminating the hut’s interior.
Glory moved gratefully toward the heat, holding her hands out to warm them. I sank down on a nearby bench, suddenly overcome with fatigue.
“Are you hungry?” Moira asked. “I have fresh bread and cheese.”
“Not for me,” I said. “I’m so tired I’m about to drop.”
While Glory helped herself to the food, which she fearlessly shared with Orion, Moira led me to a low sleeping ledge that ran along the wall.
A mattress covered in animal pelts for warmth softened the surface.
“I don’t expect you to give up your bed,” I protested.
“These pallets are for guests,” Moira assured me. “I sleep nearer the fire with Orion.”
While I slipped off my shoes, she took blankets down from a shelf overhead.
Settled under their reassuring weight, I began to drift asleep watching Glory as she fed bites of cheese to the black wolf. I remember thinking, “Wait until I tell Festus about this,” before I imagined I heard Tori calling to me.
In that netherworld between consciousness and slumber, I searched for my friend, but her voice came to me from far away.
Barely able to hold a coherent thought, I tried to form a mental image of the village, which I sent out along our connection hoping to reach Tori.
Like Hansel and Gretel dropping breadcrumbs, the exercise made me feel less alone — and it pushed me over the edge of awareness into a deep, dreamless sleep.
The Elegy Series: Fermata
Fermata was actually the first book Rana and Patti wrote together in 2013. After publishing the core story as two novellas early in their career to judge reader interest, they pulled the books with plans to develop them into a series.
Now, almost six years later, they've expanded the story series arc to tell an apocalyptic tale with their usual genre-bending tendency. Stay tuned for more updates about this exciting new series!
Free on Book Funnel
In this prequel novella to Witch at Heart, readers are introduced to the magical roots of Jinx's world through Tori's voice.
Latest Novella Release
Join ROMO agent and werecat Festus McGregor in this second installment of the Jinx Hamilton/Wrecking Crew novellas.
First Wrecking Crew Novella
Werecat Festus McGregor leads his Recovery of Magical Objects Squad on a mission to retrieve the Moonstone Spoon.
Jinx plans her wedding at the same time she's dealing with upset ghosts and unsolved murders. What could possibly go wrong?
What we're Working on
There's a humorous meme going around Facebook right now that would suggest everyone had a long month -- "January was a long year, but we got through it." That's pretty much how we feel. Patti came down with a three-week cold that just would not let go. Rana enjoyed a weekend celebration in Dallas when the niece of a dear friend married, followed two days later by a one day trip to San Antonio where her sister had back surgery.
Other incidents of general madness ensued, but we've forged ahead and are excited about the impending release of Mirrors of Time. We wanted to share a sneak peek of the first chapter with you because we know To Love a Witch left you hanging. Unfortunately, the ending seems to have upset many readers even though it's the only "cliffhanger" we've ever done in the series. Hopefully when you read Mirrors, you'll understand and forgive us.
Mirrors, which will be ready sometime in the next two weeks, will answer many questions. It will also represent a brief pause in the Jinx series while we turn our attention to some other projects -- Fermata (book one in the new Elegy Series), the next Selby Jensen paranormal mystery, a return to the Lockwoods, and maybe a surprise or two. You never know with us. 😉
Patti and Rana
Above: Rana and her childhood friend Brenda Trimble at the wedding. Note Brenda's photobombing little sister in the center.
Right: Patti celebrated her birthday on the 16th. She enjoyed beautiful yellow roses from her husband, but alas no birthday dinner out in the midst of her cold. As she so elegantly put it, "Because I couldn't taste a damned thing."